about my wedding photography style and philosophy behind it

guests falling on the wet dance floor in Prevailing Winds lodge wedding

what’s my wedding photography style and philosophy behind it?

I talked in detail what are the most common wedding photography styles and what are their pros and cons in previous posts. This article will explain what is my photography style and will dig into I do things the way I do. I will also also include image examples from the wedding I’ve photographed in the past.

I specialize in a wedding photojournalism, also known as documentary wedding photography. During this style of wedding photography coverage, I do not control or manipulate the scenes that I am witnessing. I approach wedding day events without predefined judgment. I take whatever life throws at me and make wedding story out of it.

Below is some wedding photojournalism principles I follow and my reasoning behind them.


I won’t tell you where to stand or what to do

Seriously, I won’t. If you’ll ask me for some guidance, I will definitely help you out. But I will do my best to not interrupt your wedding day thoughts and happenings in any way. It’s you day. I am there document it with my camera, not to be part of your memories.

wedding photographer philosophy: I won't touch or move things around while groom is getting ready with bride's picture dressed up in other room


I won’t touch or move things around.

It’s pretty straightforward: if I do, I start creating my own story. It’s your day. It’s your story. No touching!

Maybe there is not story behind why this banana was left on the wows. But maybe there is. And I am fine with “maybe”. And if I am right, I just captured an image that will trigger your smile every time you see it. And if I am wrong, well, I’m wrong.

types of wedding photography-wedding photojournalism: banana fruit is laying on top of brides wedding vows


I won’t create my version of your story.

Why should I? It’s your wedding day, it’s your story!

an example of wedding photojournalism: flower girls are very excited about bride and groom


I won’t boss you around.

I will be there with you but I will stay quiet. I will observe and listen, but I won’t really talk unless asked to do so. I will let you experience and enjoy those intimate and genuine moments of your magic day.

wedding photography style: photojournalism. Gay couple standing on Madison Children’s Museum rooftop and enjoying private moment


I will let you be true you.

Seriously. It’s YOUR wedding day ! You are surrounded by people who love you most. And you (hopefully) won’t be judged for who you are. So why pretend to be someone you are not? Be yourself, I’ve got your back!
Let’s have a fucking party like there’s no tomorrow!!!

wedding photography style: photojournalism. four adult people doing shots from shot ski______________

I hope you like my wedding photography style and wedding photojournalism is wedding photography style you are looking for. If you have any questions or interest in my services, do not hesitate shoot me a message via contact links below or check out commonly asked questions in my FAQ page. Give me a shout! I would love to be part your your wedding day!

What are wedding photography styles and which one suits your needs best?

cropped examples of traditional wedding photography style, wedding photojournalism and lifestyle wedding photography

what are common wedding photography styles and which one suits your needs best?

First thing wedding couples will look into when starting their search for wedding photographer, is wedding photography style photographer is photographing. Each of those wedding photography styles has their advantages and disadvantages.
In this page I will briefly go over few most common wedding photography styles and look into their pros and cons. Each wedding photography style I will try to match with images form my previous weddings. Hopefully, an article below will give you better idea about different styles of wedding photography that are out there. And hopefully, it will help you decide which wedding photography style suits your needs best.



Classic/ Traditional wedding photography style

“Sally, look at what daddy’s has in his hands! Smi-iiiiii-ile”. “Adrian, stop picking your nose! Look at the camera!”. Does this sound familiar? It probably does. If no, think grandma and grandpa album: people in photographs looking directly into camera.

Old days wedding pictures have one thing in common- they all were shot on 35mm or 120mm film. And shooting on film biggest disadvantage was that you couldn’t see the result right away. Which is why people played it safe. So photographer was orchestrating big chunk of the day, was pausing people, was moving them around to make sure images couple and their wedding guests will receive are not blurry, properly exposed and everybody in them looks happy. Playing it safe, you know.

Besides being very posy and unnatural, traditional/ classic wedding photography also embodies very predictable angles for a certain section of the day. I’m talking about lots of posed pictures. I’m talking about predictable moments (first kiss, walking down the isle, first dance) photographed in exact same fashion and angle for each wedding. Again, those are safe shots, they worked well for many clients before, so they should work for you as well.

And even though majority of wedding photographers shoot digital these days, when you look around on internet, there’s definitely no shortage of very traditional and classic wedding photography approach.

While I still see value in traditional family pictures and wedding portraits, I’m a strong believer that these pictures shouldn’t dominate your wedding day. Please see my FAQ page for more details about it and my philosophy behind it.


  • Same looking image from the same angle worked for 50 clients before, so there’s a big probability that it will work for you as well
  • Very much predictable outcome
  • Your mom will be very happy to see those images


  • Traditional wedding images will often lack individuality
  • Posed portraits most often will look unnatural
  • Even though some posed images will look natural, you’ll still have memories of photographer’s presence and disrupted moments

Examples for traditional wedding photography style. © Paulius Musteikis


Lifestyle wedding photography style

This wedding photography style is a combination of setting the scene first and waiting for candid moments happen afterwards. Because of the candid element, wedding images have more natural look. Normally, wedding photographer will provide their subjects with details and directions on where to stand and what to do. Wedding portraits often won’t be signaling any photographer’s presence, because normally there’s no direct eye contact with the camera. Additionally, non-perfect elements could be added, so the images have more realistic and “down to the ground” feel.


  • More approachable and relaxed feel than classic/ traditional wedding photography
  • Controlled environment is easier to work in


  • Even though images look more natural and relaxed, subjects still will have memories of photographer’s presence, directions and disrupted intimate/ private wedding day moments.

Lifestyle wedding photography examples. © Paulius Musteikis


Photojournalism/documentary wedding photographer

Photojournalism is a particular form of journalism that employs images in order to tell a story. Documentary photography is a form of photography used to chronicle significant and historical events. It follows a single topic or story in-depth over time.

Wedding photojournalist will present your wedding day way the way it happened, without altering or fabricating real events.


  • Images will have most authentic look and have more feeling in them because all emotions in images are real
  • People are experiencing real wedding day moments that are not disrupted by photographer’s directions


  • No control of the events unfolding throughout the day
  • Due to constantly moving parts the image outcome is less predictable
  • Certain elements in the pictures might look unflattering

wedding guests drinking from shot ski during family farm wedding reception in Middletown, Wisconsinbride is laughing awhile groom is kissing her after their UW Arboretum wedding ceremony

Documentary wedding photography style examples. © Paulius Musteikis


Wedding photography styles I’ve talked about above are just few most common ones. Other wedding photography styles that are driven by high fashion, fine art, portraiture, natural light, etc.

In real world wedding photographer rarely sticks just to one style. Often, throughout the wedding day, elements from other wedding photography styles will get mixed in. For example, even if you hired documentary wedding photographer, that doesn’t mean there won’t be any traditional wedding pictures. Most likely, your documentary wedding photographer will set 30-60 minutes aside, for traditional posed family and wedding couple pictures.

Once you find wedding photographer whose pictures you resonate with, study his work. How do images feel? Do you see a pattern? Candid pictures? Pictures of details? Who’s dominating the pictures: bride and groom, family?

Do you see a lots of candid moments, real raw emotions, images feel non staged? You probably looking at documentary wedding photographer‘s work.

Does bride looks like she just stepped out of the Vogue cover? Are you noticing dramatic lighting? Does photographer puts accent on jewelry and and clothing? You might probably dealing high fashion wedding photographer.

Seeing lots of family and bride and groom portraits? Along with shoes, dress or flower bouquet wedding pictures?  Traditional or lifestyle photographer most likely would work for you best. Printing a list of “must-have-wedding day pictures” and handing it to your wedding photographer might be a good idea as well.

Figure out what style you are looking for before you reach out to photographer for availability and interview. This will save you and photographer time.

For more common questions Madison Wisconsin wedding photographers get asked a lot, please visit my FAQ page.

James Madison Park wedding in Madison, WI | Cindy + Martin

bride and groom with sparklers standing on the dock at James Madison park wedding


+ James Madison park wedding in Madison, WI

Cindy and Martin have met at a spaghetti dinner the night before Martin ran the Tough Mudder (!!!) competition with a group of mutual friends. Cindy was only there for the spaghetti. In the end, guess she ended up getting a bit more.

Their first date took place at the Mediterranean Cafe on the State Street about week later. Couple got ice cream at the Memorial Union Terrace afterwards. And the rest is history (:

I’ve met Martin in their house on the Park street where I photographed him getting dressed. I witnessed him put to  and moved on to see what Cindy was up to.

I’ve met Cindy in The Madison Concourse hotel where she got ready surrounded by immediate family and bridesmaids. That part of the day was filled with laughter through tears (after opening Martin’s wedding gift), raw emotions and lots of hugs.

Wedding definitely doesn’t need to be this over-the-roof extravaganza to be special. In fact, spending big money for the wedding and expecting it to be amazing just because of that, couldn’t be further from the truth. And Cindy’s and Martin’s James Madison park celebration is a good proof of it. Their wedding was simple and modest, yet delightful and very much inspiring.

Lawn games, dancing in the tent filled with beautiful afternoon light, keg stand, sparklers, big bottle of bourbon passed around, mysterious smiley face on grass in front of the reception tent. All these elements happened to be in James Madison Park wedding that day. And it all made Cindy’s and Martin’s wedding special and unique.

And I’ve been there to witness it all.

I love my job!


To see a full gallery from Cindy’s and Martin’s James Madison park wedding, click >> HERE <<.


groom is getting ready for his James Madison park wedding in Madison, Wisconsin groom is wrapping up a wedding gift to his wife to be Asian American bride is tearing during getting ready in Concourse Hotel, Madison WI bride and father of the bride are walking to the James Madison park wedding ceremony bride walks by wedding guests before James Madison park wedding ceremony James Madison park wedding ceremony with lake Mendota in the backgroundbride is hugging guests in James Madison park outdoor wedding bride hugging the groom during their first dance James Madison park outdoor wedding little girl on a dancefloor during wedding reception in James Madison park wide angle view of James Madison park with a wedding tent and lake Mendota in the background wedding guests are dancing in tent at the James Madison park wedding reception bride and groom are hugging during the first dance in James Madison park wedding a wedding portrait of bride and groom in James Madison park on a shore of lake Mendotabride and groom playing bean bag toss at their James Madison park wedding reception wedding witnesses are signing marriage license certificate groom is resting his head on brides shoulder during marriage license signing wedding guests are performing keg stand at the James Madison park wedding in Madison, WI wedding tent in James Madison park during the sunset James Madison park with wedding guests on the dock during the lake Mendota sunset bride and groom with sparklers standing on the dock in James Madison park

To see more photographs from Cindy’s and Martins’s outdoor wedding, click >> HERE <<.


Planning your wedding in James Madison Park upcoming summer? Need local wedding photographer? Look no further! I’m an outdoors loving, laid-back wedding photographer from Madison, Wisconsin and would love to be on your outdoors wedding team. See my wedding photography FAQ page and give me a shout via my contact page!


Getting Ready location: The Madison Concourse Hotel
Ceremony and Reception:
James Madison Park
Floral: Lewiston Perennial Farm
Catering: Smokey Jon’s
Rentals: Mad Fox Party Rentals

Why giving your wedding photojournalist an extensive wedding photo checklist is a bad idea?

extensive wedding pictures list is a bad idea

// Why giving your wedding photojournalist an extensive wedding photo checklist is a bad idea?

This article will discuss why giving your wedding photojournalist an extensive wedding pictures list is a bad idea.

Let’s start at the beginning. You hired your wedding photojournalist for an upcoming wedding. You’re excited. Your significant other is excited. You both liked your wedding photographer’s style, images, philosophy and personality. You hired your wedding photographer for their strength: anticipate and capture real, true, candid moments without alternating reality; without telling you what to do, where to stand and how to behave.

You also invited her/him to be big part of your wedding day, allowed them into to enter your intimate world of fears, flaws and weaknesses. You wanted to be who you are- yourself, and you trusted your wedding photojournalist to make you look good.

And then your maid of honor calls. “Great news!” she says and goes on to tell how she went to Wedding Wire or Pinterest and found this amazing list called “85 must have” wedding pictures! And suddenly you were like “Wow! What an amazing idea!”. Right? 
Well, not really.

Honestly, giving your wedding photojournalist an extensive list of wedding pictures is a bad idea. Here’s why.

why extensive wedding pictures list is a bad idea: bride makes up faces while playing with children during wedding photojournalism coverage

While images in those lists is usually a very basic task for a wedding professional, they often could quickly become major pain in the ass.

During my early wedding photographer’s career, I numerous times experienced an extensive “must have” list becoming more important task than documenting happenings unfolding around me. And that’s not good.

Too many times I witnessed amazing moments go by unphotographed while I was struggling with extra-long wedding dress in the rain for “13. Photograph Monirose hanging on the willow tree branch” picture; or expensive work diamond ring for “22. Photograph diamond wedding ring placed on the top of the flower bouquet” shot, or waited for uncle Bill to get back from the bathroom (while trying not to lose tipsy aunt Mary) at the table No.16 for “57. Photograph all wedding guests at tables No.3, 5, 6, 7, 12, 15 and 16” task in the list.

There are many more examples like those, that explain why extensive wedding pictures list is a bad idea.

bride and groom are embracing in the background during Sunday brunch wedding at Bishop’s Bay country club in Madison, Wisconsin

You don’t hire skilled auto mechanic to fix your gas stove, do you? 

And hey- I get it. There are things out there that wedding photographer must have in their “to do” list. Maybe the bracelet bride will be wearing is very much important to her because it was worn by her grandmother on her wedding day. Or maybe it’s a reception sign that niece and nephew spent 3 weeks in making. I always encourage couples to tell me details like these.

But you need to be careful. Because as soon as “must have” wedding pictures list starts expanding, so does the chances that you might not be getting skills and services you’ve paid for. And nobody wants that.

So talk to your wedding photojournalist in advance. Express your needs, fears and thoughts and see what they have to say about it all. Because wedding professional’s biggest priority is to let you experience your wedding at its best while delivering a product that they are most skilled at.

PLEASE NOTE that this article is talking about how  and extensive “must have” wedding pictures list applies to wedding photojournalism, not traditional wedding photography. Issues addressed in this article could be solved by hiring photographer that specializes in traditional wedding photography approach or by hiring 2nd photographer and delegating the task to her/him.

why extensive wedding pictures list is a bad idea: garter toss during wedding reception in Surg on the Water in Milwaukee

how to interview your wedding photographer: no BS advice by wedding industry insider

bride is approaching groom for the first look

how to interview your wedding photographer: no BS advice by wedding industry insider

True fact: there are few of you out there that know how to interview your wedding photographer properly. Sad but true.
This is how it usually goes: sheet of paper lands on the table, future husband or future wife looks at it and says the magic phrase: “We’ve printed a list of questions to ask your wedding photographer and would love if you could answer them”. And that’s where usually the problem lies.

Now don’t get me wrong- I don’t mind answering those questions, or any other questions for that matter. Questions usually excite me a lot! But if that question list they put together was picked up online at websites like Wedding Wire or The Knot, red glowing sign comes on in my mind and it reads: “Houston, we’ve got a problem!”.

Here’s why: people who put those articles and question lists together (often) have no idea or little how wedding photography works. Or at least that’s what I see when I read those tips. In fact, I often feel like things just get copy/pasted from one website to another sending same shitty message- ask lousy generic answers, get lousy generic answers and learn nothing about the person who you are going to big chunk of your exciting day. My math formula for it looks like this:


So when it comes to the list of questions on how to interview your wedding photographer, here are few tips:

  • ditch cookie cutter questions and get personal
  • be present in conversation
  • go deeper down the rabbit hole
  • keep an eye open for the red flags

Follow the simple instructions above and you’ll get better understanding how wedding photographer works. You’ll also feel more confident and  trust your wedding photographer (that’s a big one) more. And that trust is crucial. As it will allow you to enjoy your wedding day at its fullest. It will make your pictures more relaxed and candid, it will make your wedding photographer’s work easier and as result it will help to yield better pictures. Seriously, who doesn’t want better wedding pictures without too much extra effort?

Cookie cutter questions are not for you: your wedding day is unique and so should be your questions.


Below I put some examples of generic questions I found on online wedding planning networks, and added some replacement questions and reasoning behind them so you would get the most out of wedding photographer interview. Hope that helps!

How do you describe your photography style?

More personal question: Besides wedding pictures, what other pictures you like to take? What pictures you like to look at? What do you find interesting about them? What do you find interesting about wedding photography? What motivates you as a photographer/ wedding photographer? What do you like/ don’t like about weddings?

Reason: You will learn how your wedding photographer sees photography and life. You will also better understand what motivates her/him. And of course you will get better idea what’s her/his wedding philosophy and wedding photography style is.

woman sleeping on chairs in airport with funny sign above her

An image of a woman sleeping in airport is an example of street photography


Do you have a portfolio I can review?

More personal question: What was your favorite wedding you ever shot? Why? How did the last wedding you shot looked like? Did you ever photographed a wedding that somewhat had a similar feel like my future wedding? Can I see examples?

Reason: If someone doesn’t have a portfolio, she/he is not a professional wedding photographer. If you see 20 best pictures from someone’s 10 years wedding photography portfolio, you really not seeing the real picture of what you will be getting. Listen to your wedding photographer, tell them about your wedding plans and see ask for wedding gallery examples with the same/similar wedding venue, amount of people, time of the year, etc.


Have you ever shot at my wedding venue before?

More personal question: How do you approach photographing a wedding in the venue you’ve never been before? Do you research online? Do you look at Google Maps? Do you arrive earlier to check out wedding location in advance? Do you talk to venue staff about possible spots for shoot?

Reason: It honestly doesn’t matter if photographer shot at your wedding venue or if he went there to check in advance. If he’s a professional, going into unknown location and making things happen is his/her regularly conducted activity. Besides you rarely will find the same light conditions in the building- light in the same wedding venue could often look very differently depending on time of the day, season, weather conditions, etc.

best man is having a craft cocktail at the wedding venue during the golden hour beautiful sunsetBest man lit up by setting sun during golden hour at the wedding venue


How many hours of coverage do we get?

More personal question: Can we go through our wedding day timeline and see what do you think? What time do you recommend to start the coverage? When do you recommend doing family portraits? Why? Does the timeline we have look feasible?

Reason: Let photographer help you figure out amount of coverage he/she recommends. I’ve often run into couples that think they need 10 hours of coverage when in reality 7 is what they need. I get asked for 5 hour coverage, when reality is at least 8 hours of continuous coverage. Talk to professional, hear their opinion and decide what will work for you afterwards.


How many photographers will be on my wedding?

More personal question: Why do you think are pros and cons of having 2nd photographer? What do you recommend for my wedding day? Why?

Reason: Don’t get stuck with an idea that 2nd photographer will do miracles. Talk but be ready to listen. There are definitely scenarios where 2nd photographer is OK and certain situations where 2nd photographer is a MUST. Professional wedding photographer should have a good explanation of all pros and cons that apply for your wedding. There are weddings with 120 guests where 2nd photographer is a must and there are weddings with 300 wedding guests where one photographer is just enough.

Talk. Listen. Hear and be heard.

picture of wedding photographer and her assistant at the Masonic Center Madison WI wedding explaining on how to interview your wedding photographerwedding photographer Ilana Natasha and her assistant Mary on a wedding day

Do you bring your own lighting?

More personal question: Have you ever photographed in the dim church? Have you done a photo shoot outdoors when it’s dark? Can I see examples?

Reason: Bringing the lights to the dark venue or ceremony to show off isn’t going to do much if the wedding photographer doesn’t know how to use them or venue (e.g church) wouldn’t allow to use them. There’s plenty of photographer’s that go through the day without an artificial light. All they have is available light and they kill it!


What camera do you use?

More personal question: Have you ever photographed wedding in a rain? Snow? Dark church? What problems did you run into? What was your challenge? How did you solve it? Can I see an example gallery or two?

Reason: Remember- it’s not the $5,000 Santoku knife with ivory handle that makes a chef known nationwide. It’s the food the chef makes. Professional camera’s are relatively inexpensive these days and its way easier to own one than 15-20 years ago. But a lot of people forget that camera is just a tool. And the most important thing is how photographer puts that tool in use. That’s where the great skill is. And one sees and works with light. And how photographer communicates with the surroundings. And many other things. You get the idea.
If you really really want to know, I use pro level Fuji mirrorless cameras and lenses. But it really is not about the camera.

paper bag with Fuji photo equipment to exemplify how to interview your wedding photographer and to show that gear doesn’t matterContents of my “photo bag” AKA “too lazy to stuff my photo gear back to the photography case”

Thanks for stopping by and reading! I hope you find tips and recommendations about how to interview your wedding photographer useful. If you have any questions or suggestions of your own, feel to reach out to me via contact page. Check out my FAQ page with common questions Madison Wisconsin wedding photographers get asked a lot!

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